tv Meet the Press MSNBC January 2, 2011 2:00pm-3:00pm EST
where do i find such stories? they come from people like you. thousands of names we don't know but should. my favorite? the one still waiting to be told. thanks for watching. this sunday, a new year and new challenges for the president and republicans. when the 112th congress convenes this week, can they compromise on such tough issues as jobs, the debt and the deficit or does 2011 promise to be a year of gridlock and posturing in advance of the 2012 presidential race? senior republican senator from south carolina, member of the armed services committee, lindsey graham. then our roundtable, with the political forecast for this new year.
how does president obama try to rebound from the pitfalls of 2010? what is the future of the gop with tea partiers in congress and an unsettled presidential field taking shape? prospects for economic recovery for the new year. snow politics. tough questions for the politicians when a white christmas goes wrong. with us, columnist david brooks of the "new york times" and e.j. dionne of "the washington post," washington correspondent from bbc katty kay. senator-elect from pennsylvania, republican pat toomey and author of the new book, "the violence of peace," stephen carter. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good morning. a new year and renewed focus on the economy as the psi a new year, and a new focus as the president makes a pledge to the american people in his weekly address this weekend. his message, getting the economy
back on track. >> as president, that's my commitment to you to do everything i can to make sure that our economy is growing, creating jobs and strengthening our middle class. that's my resolution for the coming year. >> the president returns from his family holiday in hawaii on tuesday and the 112th congress with a republican house and a more closely divided democratic senate convenes on wednesday. here with us this morning, leading republican in the senate, senior senator from south carolina, lindsey graham, happy new year, senator. welcome back to "meet the press." >> thank you for having me. happy new year. >> so the president talks about a new year's resolution to get the economy back on track. he will face a more republican congress. will he find a partner in the new congress with more republicans there? >> i hope so. well, why did the economy get off track? the policies the president has pursued over the past couple of years with his democratic colleagues, obama health care, i think, has made economic
recovery more difficult. he will find a partner, if he will come our way when it comes to creating jobs and controlling spending. the mandate of the last election was pretty clear to me that the democratic policies from 2008 to '10 were rejected by the american people. because they created too much debt and grew the government too much. if you want it reduce the size of government, i think you'll find a willing partner in republicans. >> where do you see the economy right now? holiday spending was good in terms of shopping. you look at the housing market and it is still a mess. prices coming down and interest rates going up. do you think economic recovery will still be stalled? >> i think what got us into this mess was the collapse of housing and bad numbers came out recently about housing. the one thing with extending the tax cuts for two years helped a bit, but the obama health care is a real burden to small businesses and large businesses. 200 and something waivers. one of the best things the republicans help to give business certainty, go after hard the obama health care bill,
redesign the stimulus bill to make sure it goes to the economy, not to the government. i think it's going to be a slow recovery. 2011 will be a continuation of 2010, probably unemployment still above 9%. >> let me break that down a little bit. you mentioned housing. in 2008, republicans, including senator mccain and yourself. >> yeah. >> we're talking about fannie mae and freddie mac, the two housing giants that the government has now taken over. they basically support the housing in this economy. should those be wound down and privatized? >> they should certainly be reviewed and reformed. they pushed mortgages out to people who couldn't pay those mortgages. the mortgages become exotic security interest instruments sold all over the world and the financial regulation bill left unattended fannie mae and freddie mac. pushing mortgages on people who can't afford to pay them and do
nothing about it, it's pretty hard for me to say you've reformed the problem that got us into this mess. >> what's the republican solution to housing? >> to me, is to get fannie mae and freddie mac into a reward that is more traditionally accepted. a home you can afford. to get more private sector involvement and control who they lend money to and basically wind them down and make them more private. >> okay. let me move on to health care, which you also raise. is there a chance for actual health care repeal or do you see room for compromise, all this talk about the individual mandate, making individuals buy insurance? >> right. >> you talked about compromise about that early on. do you disagree that's unconstitutional? a lot of republicans believe that. >> i think the problem with the individual mandate is that everybody will be in a government-run plan. i was with seven republicans and seven democrats that required
everybody to be covered. you did away with employer deductions and allowed individuals to buy health care in the private sector across state lines and it was revenue neutral. i think you'll see the fight on obama care across the board in the house and the senate to try to defund the obama care bill and to start over. one thing i'm going to do with senator brasso is allow states to opt out of the individual mandate, the employer mandate in expansion of medicaid. the expansion of medicaid under the obama health care bill will bankrupt south carolina. i think this fight will continue through 2012 and it will move from washington to the states. it will be one big fight over the role of health care and should obama health care be in existence in 2012 the way it is today. >> senator, we talk about what kind of relationship this white house will have with a more republican congress, republican house, more republicans in the senate. the lame duck session, the president finished pretty strong, bipartisan accomplishment. this is what you said, however, just before christmas, reacting to the lame duck.
you weren't very pleased. let's listen. >> when it's all going to be said and done, harry reid has eaten our lunch. this has been a capitulation in two weeks of dramatic proportions, of policies that wouldn't have passed in the new congress. >> so, to your way of thinking -- >> yeah. >> the kind of bipartisanship that we saw is not what you want to see in the new year? >> i don't want to see bills passed in a lame duck congress where you can't amend the bill. don't ask, don't tell was repealed in the lame duck congress, not one amendment was allowed to the bill. we had six versions of the dream act brought up in the lame duck congress. >> the immigration bill? >> that's right. the s.t.a.r.t. treaty could have been made better if it had come in the new year. i don't understand why republicans were pushing through policies in the lame duck that could have been made better in the new congress.
will the republican party learn from the mistakes of the democratic party? if in 2012 we can show the american people we spent less of their money, went to the heart of our debt problem by reforming entitlements and reduced the size of government, i think we will fare well with the american people. if we don't do those things, we will be in trouble ourselves. >> you've been skeptical about whether tea party activists who become candidates who become legislators now will be willing to compromise, willing to legislate. where do you find yourself then, closer to the tea party after the lame duck session or closer to the moderates? >> i'm enthusiastic about new people coming in. god knows this congress coming into being needs to learn from the mistakes of the past congress. tea party people can provide energy to do something about our spending problems by getting us back to 2008 spending levels. pat toomey is on your panel, has been a real leader on entitlement reform. the debt commission is a bipartisan document that we should all look at, about flattening our tax code, increasing the age eligibility for medicare and social
security, upper-income americans should have their social security benefits means tested simply because we don't have enough money to keep social security solvent without change. i hope the tea party will come to washington and change the whole dynamic that led to this fiscal mess we're in, starting with spending in the 2011 year but also reforming entitlements. and i think a guy like pat toomey will be a breath of fresh air for the next congress. >> let me break a few of those things down. it's an important level of detail. you talk about the budget. you talk about spending. how will you vote on the debt ceiling? will you vote to raise it? it's a vote that will come up in relatively short order. >> right. to not raise the debt ceiling could be a default of the united states in treasury obligations. that would be very bad for the position of the united states and the world at large. this is an opportunity to make sure the government is changing its spending ways. i will not vote for the debt ceiling increase until i see a
plan in place that will deal with our long-term debt obligations, starting with cial security, a real bipartisan effort to make sure that social security stays solvent, adjusting the age, looking at means test for benefits. on the spending side, i'm not going to vote for a debt ceiling increase unless we go back to 2008 spending levels, cutting discretionary spending. >> that's a big condition, just on social security alone. >> yeah. >> do you think republicans -- >> it is. >> -- are prepared to follow you in two things you said, raise the retirement age and means test for older americans? >> i would suggest that if we're serious about taking america in a new direction and you're not putting entitlement reform on the table, you've missed a great opportunity to change the course of america's future. and the last election was about change. change that really will make us something other than greece. i think pat toomey, rand paul and other candidates new to the
congress have said during the campaign everything is on the table when it comes to making america fiscally sound. let's see if we can find bipartisan reforms before we raise the debt limit. >> do you think senator mcconnell, the leader of the republicans, is going to go along with that? >> i hope so. i know that speaker boehner is going to produce spending limitation bills every day. the question for the tea party, republican party and democratic party, beyond discretionary spending, are we willing to look at the debt commission's suggestions in entitlement reform and begin to enact those reforms before it's too late? i hope that this new congress will do something the other congresses have never done, and that is seriously look at entitlement reform by adjusting the age and means testing benefits, including medicare part b. obama health care needs to be repealed and replaced but the republican party created medicare part d, a prescription drug entitlement that's already gotten out of control. i hope we'll put that on the table for reform. >> would you vote to actually
scrap that, to take it away? >> i would vote to means test it. i would vote to make sure that people in my income level and your income level don't get their prescription drug bills paid by the federal government because we can afford it. i would vote that someone in my income level would have their social security benefits modified if they're under 55, not in a draconian way but changes we can make now that will ensure a social security collapse. this is the perfect opportunity to find common ground, entitlement reform starting with social security. >> you talked about the president, his leadership style and your own assessment of him. i want to put up on the screen something you said to the national review last month. president -- this is about the government shut down. you talked about president obama and his experience and you said i think he's adrift. his instincts, i think, are to be more centrist, since that's the political future for him but he doesn't feel comfortable taking on his own party and he he sure doesn't know how to cut
a deal and sell it. this goes back to his experience. he's never done this stuff before. i hope the message is, before you elect someone president of the united states, the more experience you have in the real word, the better. he's never sat down with the group of republicans and democrats hardheaded right and hardheaded left and hammered out a deal. you don't think what happened in the lame duck session qualifies? >> what happened in the lame duck session, policies were passed that were sort of liberal agenda policies that got votes or passed that really didn't change the job situation. the president did agree to an extension of the tax cuts. his initial entry into the agreement was whining. he accused us, republicans, of being hostage takers. he did change. when president clinton was allowed to talk about the tax extension deal, i think that was a moment of change for president obama. i hope he will continue to embrace the middle when it comes to spending and entitlement reform.
>> what about spending in the budget? back in '95, you defended a decision to shut down the government. you said nobody was angry about that. do you think it would be smart for republicans to do that this time? >> it would be smart for the republicans to learn from our mistakes. at the end of the day, the american people do not like the direction the country has taken the past two years. we have a chance to go a new way, change spending, do something about long-term entitlements. you don't need to shut down the government to accomplish those goals but you need to lead. at the end of the day, will the republican party, with this new lease on life, lead? will paul ryan put a budget together that starts reducing the deficit and addresses long-term debt? i think he will. i'm optimistic about the new members of the republican party coming in to the house and the senate. we've got a second chance on life and we're going to take full advantage of it. to my democratic friends out there, if you want to do something about spending and debt, you're going to find willing partners on the
republican side, but it has to be meaningful change. >> final area with just a moment left. i want to talk about afghanistan. you traveled there extensively and you think a lot about the war. vice president biden was on this program in the last couple of weeks. >> yeah. >> was emphatic in talking about the end game for the united states. this is a portion of what he said. >> recent lisbon conference, nato conference where we said we're starting this process, just like we did in iraq, we're starting it in july of 2011. and we're going to be totally out of there, come hell or high water, by 2014. >> if that holds, that means there's a level of confidence that the primary challenge can be overcome which, to you, is what? >> well, at the end of the day, i think the vice president has walked back that statement. the president, rightfully, has said we're going to start transitioning this year. by 2014, the afghan security forces will be in the lead. i want an enduring relationship with afghanistan past 2014, politically, economically and
militarily so that country never goes back into the hands of taliban or al qaeda. the two words that will be talked about in 2011 with afghanistan is corruption and pakistan. i am hopeful the pakistani army will be more bold in attacking safe havens across the border that lie in pakistan. i hope the karzai government will better address corruption. i hope we can find an enduring relationship with afghanistan that will make sure that country never goes back in the hands of terrorists and the idea of putting permanent military bases on the table in 2011, i think, would secure our national interests until the bad guys and the good guys were not leaving, we're staying in a responsible way if the afghan people want us to stay. >> that's important. you believe a permanent u.s. military presence in afghanistan is required in order to head off a potential failed state in the future? >> i think it would be enormously beneficial to the region as well as afghanistan. we have had air bases all over the world. a couple of air bases in afghanistan would allow the
afghan security forces an edge against the taliban in perpetuity. the taliban will never come back in afghanistan. they could change their behavior. it would be a signal to the whole region that afghanistan is going to be a new and different place. and if the afghan people want this relationship, they're going to have to earn it. i hope they will seek a relationship with the united states before we can have an enduring relationship, economic and militarily and politically. and a couple of air bases in afghanistan will give us an edge militarily, give the afghan security forces an edge militarily, to ensure that country never goes back into the hands of the taliban, which would be a stabilizing event throughout the whole region. that has to be earned by the afghan people and it has to be requested by them. >> before i let you go, senator, do you have a candidate yet for a -- a republican candidate in 2012? >> the most electable conservative, whoever that is. >> who is the leading contender, in your mind?
>> probably romney. mitt romney has his problems as a candidate, but so does everyone else. but it's a changing environment. the one thing you have to prove to the people of south carolina, not only that you're conservative, but you can carry the day. that's why we need to be talking about immigration and energy policy as a party. what will we do to break $4 a gallon gas for oil independence? one issue that needs to be talked about is $4 a gallon gas is coming and we've done nothing to become energy independent. i'll work with the president, democrats and republicans to come to a solution of breaking oil independence, and try to clean up the air, noble pursuit of the republican party. >> we'll start there and on immigration in our next conversation. senator graham, thank you as always. >> thank you. happy new year. >> thank you. up next, a look at the challenges ahead for president obama in 2011. you heard some of them. will economic recovery be achievable? will compromise or gridlock dominate the new congress as they both set the stage for the 2012 race for the white house? plus, fallout from the big
we are back, joined by our roundtable, columnist from "the new york times," david brooks, from "the washington post," e.j. dionne, together again, brooks and dionne. and stephen carter, welcome to the program. senator-elect from pennsylvania, pat toomey is here as well and washington correspondent for the bbc katty kay is here. welcome to all of and you happy new year. lots to talk about. strong showing for the president in the lame duck congress. now it's a new year, new congress and new challenges. you heard the president in his new year's address. he talked about his new year's resolution, getting the economy back on track.
what does that mean? too many people still out of work. economic recovery still too slow. mixed signals. holiday shopping was robust, people buying a lot of christmas gifts, spending money. that was good. then headlines like this in "the wall street journal," housing. this was the headline, housing recovery stalls. fall in home prices, interest rates going higher. that bedrock of savings for so many americans wiped away by the loss of housing value. so, where does the president go from here to make the economy stronger? >> you talk to people inside the white house about what they're going to do in the state of the union, it's all about growth. are you going to cut the deficit? we're going to make growth. they want to make growth, the republicans want to come in and restrain the cost of spending. i've become optimistic, 30% chance of something real can happen. obama is right, we need growth, infrastructure spending. energy research. the republicans are right, we need to control spending. there are actually ways to put
these things together. they are not contradictory. if obama says we're going to control spending and i'm going to trade that for growth measures, i think there's a decent chance we could not have the gridlock that a lot of people expect. >> senator-elect toomey, you're here, you'll be part of the new class in the senate. what will the president find? he said, look, i'll accept your good ideas. you're a partner, which means you're a partner in being held accountable as well for the economy. >> sure. if we focus on the growth side, and two big messages from my campaign were about restoring economic growth and the jobs that come with it. getting spend under control. some areas where we can work with the president. some areas where it will be tough. one area where we certainly can, is trail. trade. the president is happy with the south korean trade agreement. get that done. columbia, panama done and move on from there. tax policy is a possible area, one with plenty of land mines, but plenty of opportunities. simplify the code, lower rates, lower corporation tax rates. lower the capital gains rate. we should have a territorial tax system like the rest of the world does so that we have more competitive environment.
third thing, i think we need to do -- this is going to be confrontational -- deal with the regulatory overreach. regulatory agencies are trying to impose on our economy the things that congress has rejected, talking about regulating the internet, some energy policy, epa. congress is going to push back on that. obviously the president is not going to be too happy about that. >> let's talk about the president's leadership overall, e.j. you wrote something that caught my eye this past thursday in terms of how people are feeling about the president. the energy in our politics has shifted rightward with an abruptness that was inconceivable in the final week of the 2008 campaign, when barack obama could call a rally and count on tens of thousands to materialize almost at an instant. if there is one thing the obama white house most underestimates it is the dispirited mood of its troops. this is not just about the left but more important. >> you look at the election
result, it was what it was. when you see organizing in our politics, the organizing during '06, '07, '08 was on the progressive side. last couple of years it's clearly been on the conservative side. they have an initiative in our politics. i think there's an enormous opening here. one of the jobs in a democratic country is to hold people in power accountable. for two years, we have held the president accountable. democrats had all the power. now, suddenly, republicans control the house of representatives and they have more power in the senate. and i think you're going to have a kind of accountability on the republican side. what are they actually for? senator-elect of new hampshire responding to the president said we have to stop spending money we don't have on programs that are not working. i have no progressive -- what
programs aren't working? i hope progressives and the republicans challenge the president and say what about corporate subsidies, foreign subsidies, oil subsidies? a lot of them say we're for the free market, for smaller government but then turn around and support all kinds of subsidies and say we need this one now. a good free market like the senator may join with progressives and say corporate socialism is a problem. and so i think there is an opening to raise new issues now that the republicans have some power. >> stephen carter, let's talk more broadly about something you write in your book in the context of america's wars. it's also applicable here. sacrifice. bipartisan deal over taxes. it's still about giveaways, keep in place the bush tax cuts. more stimulus for the economy. that's not the hard stuff. that's not where you say to the american people, we're taking this away. >> democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. when you try to manage an
economy in a system in which everything that happen sincere twisted immediately for partisan advantage, that you run the serious risk that whatever you do in the end is going to end up looking like a giveaway. we tend to focus a lot, focusing this conversation on short-term problems, how to grow the economy this month, this year. that's natural. people's home values are declining. people are out of work. we have long-term structural problems that are enormous. if we don't confront public pensions that are underfunded, an amount no one actually knows because they're not accounted for by ordinary accounting standards, we face long-term problems that it's not clear we can afford. e.j. says where is it we not have the money and have bad policies? that's a good example. we don't have the money to pay the pensions that we promised. nobody has the money. the federal government doesn't have the money. i don't know where it's going to come from. those are the structural problems we'll have to deal with
in the long term and i'm not sure we're ready to face those yet. >> katty kay, there's the cross occurrence in the republican party. a lot of tea partiers feeling like, wait a minute, we just saw this lame duck session. did they miss the message of the election? there's a lot of accommodation there. you heard senator graham say it as well that they didn't bargain for. >> no. absolutely. tea partiers are saying we're disappointed with what washington is doing even since the election and now, of course, they'll face two new challenges on raising the debt ceiling and spending levels for the federal government and it's going to be a test tea party purity and new members that are coming in. are they actually going to make the decisions that are unpopular with the american people? what you said, david, about sacrifice is a critical issue of this. you cannot have it all. you cannot balance the budget, give people large tax cuts, as we have just done, and carry on with the spending program that is you've had. if you're not really going to address entitlements or the defense budget, then that's going to be tricky. it's very interesting to hear the senator-elect say he would go in on that and senator graham saying he would address
entitlement, but a lot of republicans wouldn't. you push them on what they would actually cut and they're reluctant to do it. >> senator-elect, here is the thing. when senator graham says i won't vote for the debt ceiling until there's agreement to deal with means testing social security and raising the retirement age, is he ally suggesting he will hold out for republicans to do that? do you sioux the political will to do something that dramatic in the next couple of months before you have to cast that vote on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling? >> i don't think it has to be that specific, but it has to be meaningful, with teeth. my suggestion is when we contemplate raising the debt limit, we do it in small increments and periodically and every time we do it, we make sure we get a major concession in the direction of limiting spending so that we can get this fiscal train wreck under control. we're on a disastrous path no, question about it. we need to take serious measures. i, for one, couldn't vote for raising the debt ceiling unless we're making sub tan active progress on it. >> it's strange that we say we
want sacrifice and we want to get the deficit under control yet congress, in this lame duck, just voted to add almost $900 billion to the deficit. i think sacrifice is something legitimate to ask of all of us. we decided to wage two wars and cut taxes at the same time. the only people really sacrificing are the men and women in uniform. a lot of people out there have sacrificed a lot in this recession. the instant you raise the word sacrifice, the question, who are we going to ask that from? who is it fair to ask that from? >> go ahead. >> i think the republican party has changed from, say, '95 or the last couple of years when they weren't willing to sacrifice. this is a republican party more dedicated to asking and talking about issues like entitlements, to really asking these kinds of questions. one of the issues we're going to face chronologically, paul ryan is going to produce a budget, will have serious budget cuts and a big debate over that. at the same time, states will being going quasi bankrupt. we'll have a huge debate about the size of government.
they're much more willing to ask for the joint sacrifice than they were under tom delay. >> this is the wrong person, the wrong way to construct this discussion and focus so much on the sacrifice. let's remember, for instance, under the current tax rates for the first four years in which they were fully in effect, from '04 to '07 inclusive, total government spending was just pillow gdp, and we had deficit that is were just barely over 2% of gdp, half that time below 2%. this was not excruciating suffering that the american people were going through in these years. yet with these rates, we had deficits that were quite manageable. we can do this again. secondly, earmarks. i said from the beginning of my campaign, i will not ask for earmarks. this is a corrupt system. this is broken. this is wasting money and i got elected. i got almost no pushback on that issue. some say that means a great
sacrifice. i think the public understands, this is what you need to do. on entitlement reform, nobody is talking about making it go away. we're talking about changing the structure. the kind of form of social security i've advocated, give younger workers the opportunity to accumulate savings. >> there's still so much focus on taxes. valerie jarrett was here last week saying the president wants to make the tax cut issue an issue in 2012. mitch mcconnell is saying bring it on. we want to have that debate in 2012. we've had a temporary truce here, but tax cuts will be a major debating ground and we haven't taken anything away yet. >> it's true. i don't want to say -- i think it's awkward to talk about asking for sacrifice. government doesn't ask for sacrifice. government tells people to sacrifice. putting that aside, i think there is actually room for compromise, even on the tax issue. most economists would agree, corporate taxes are the highest
in the world. capital gains tax is unusually high. it will go where the rates are low. but personal rates are relatively low, compared to the rest of the world. and our tax base is shrinking. it may be room for compromise over time. as the economy strengthens, reducing corporate tax rates and the capital gains tax rate, adding the tax base, taxing more people at a lower rate, the way the deficit commission wants to do that, something like that, compromised fashion that way, i think, would help put our tax system in a rational nonpartisan way. >> the debate over the past few weeks suggests there is such an allergy amongst republicans to even discuss any kind of tax increase that i wonder if there is really room for compromise. compromise, when you poll people, they say they want to compromise or mantle of americans say they want to compromise. when you push further, what they mean is that they want the other side to agree with them. senator graham said exactly that. >> i speak with liberals who feel this sense of betrayal in
the sense that they don't feel like the president has fat the fight they expected he would fight. he has had some gains but still has been too reactive, hasn't delivered the kind of leadership that he promised. what does he do to deal with that sense among his core supporters? >> i think there's a dysfunction between the president and his core supporters. he gets so impatient at people on the left, and there isn't a very big left in our country, who are doing their job, testing his limits. the left looks at him and focuses so much on what wasn't done, like the public option in health care, that it forgets, wait a minute, 32 million people are going to get health care. i think what he needs to do is to pick some arguments where he can make a case that economic growth and fairness go together. he has to talk about innovation, investment, infrastructure, education and say there is a place for the public sector to make the economy grow and to help people advance in the economy and get that balance
we were well on our way. president is also thinking about republicans. here is his reading list from his hawaiian vacation. what's first on the list there? lou cannon's book about president reagan, role of a lifetime. david brooks, how do you see this republican field shaping up? if ever there was a volatile time in a republican nominating process, this is it. >> the best way to formulate the field, which is it's divided between the managers and the populist. managers are mitt romney, rich daniels, elitist types if you want to put it that way, that's unfair but managers. then the newt gingriches, sarah palins. they'll lean more toward the managers, i think. this goes back to the debate we just had. what is the role of government? if they're strictly going to be government should fete out of the way, that's a 38% party. if they're going to be government should do what we can to make us more productive and achieve more, using government in positive ways that's a 55% party. now that they're in some power
they need to figure out how to have a negative role, to cut back government, but a positive role. >> this is how "the new york times" put it. without any odds-on favorite, republicans will spend most of the next year sorting through some difficult and divisive questions about where the party is headed, in a way they haven't really had to do in decades. how conservative can a nominee be, in post-bush era, and still be electable? does the party choose an insider with washington credentials like a senator john thune of south dakota or an outsider like ms. palin? or do they need to nominate someone who embodies the post boomer ethos in the same way that mr. obama does, maybe a governor like tim pawlenty of minnesota or mitch daniels of indiana? what do you see out there? ooh you'll be worried about doing your job. >> that's right. >> but certainly republicans are trying to get elected. >> it's a wide-open field.
i think of it as an establishment wing of the party and tea party wing of the party. if the successful nominee is going to be successful in the fall as well will have to be acceptable to both lanes. tea party movement is a powerful source of energy and if the republicans generally, republican nominee in particular, is not acceptable to that wing of the electorate, i would be worried about a third-party movement that could undermine the center right coalition. >> do you think sarah palin, if she were the nominee, could carry a state like pennsylvania? >> i think it is possible. we went into this election cycle with 1.2 million voter registration deficit and with a republican brand that was in a bad way and i still won this election. i think the electorate wants a return of economic growth, wants serious fiscal discipline. if they believe they've got a candidate that can deliver on
those things, it's possible. >> how about reporting, e.j. dionne, the president's ambassador to china, seen here with the president. he has been the ambassador to china but in this interview does not rule out the possibility of running in 2012, a more moderate republican serving for a democratic president. pretty interesting. >> i think it was a fascinating story, whether or not huntsman will actually run. i think what it says is that there is a sense in the republican party that this field they have so far may not be good enough. they're looking for someone else. and so i think there will be interest in governor/ambassador huntsman. the fact that he's thinking about it also suggests he may think president obama is more vulnerable than he thought when he took this job. the idea was huntsman was going to wait until 2016. i was rummaging around for historical metaphors. one i could think of was henry cabot lodge in 1964. it was rockefeller against goldwater. there was a draft lodge movement in new hampshire. lodge won the primary in new hampshire largely because of this dissatisfaction with
goldwater and rockefeller. will that happen this time? no. >> but lodge is dead. >> henry cabot lodge has a better chance of winning the republican nomination than huntsman does. he is in the obama administration. that's not going to fly. >> given the dissatisfaction with the field there's an opening that might not have existed otherwise. >> it's not just dissatisfaction, but a messier process than what the republican party is used to. one of the biggest differences of 2012 over 2008 is going to be the voice that ordinary voters have through facebook and twitter. it has revolutionized people's access to a megaphone. it has given them a very strong possibility to say actually we're not satisfied with any of the people that the establishment in washington has presented to us and that we can mobilize and say who we want. we can say with this extraordinary medium we have. that's going to change the way that the nomination process happens and make it much easier for a populist to come in from the outside.
>> stephen carter, we talked about haley barbour, and he has had an interesting week. there was a case of -- >> that's one way to put it. >> the scott sisters in mississippi who were incarcerated on robbery charges, a lot of people thought the sentences were way too harsh. because of a kidney situation with jamie scott, could be donated by her sister, the sentences were suspended. governor barbour saying too much of a medical cost to the state of mississippi and that this wasn't necessary anymore. he got a lot of praise from the naacp for doing this. this comes on the heels of all the criticism he got for talk of the citizen's council when he was growing up in mississippi. where does this leave him? >> i don't know where it will leave him. i'm not even sure that he's the most electable candidate out there, maybe is the way to think about it. i think some of these things happen in politics, in national
politics in the last couple of election cycles, both that brought the republican house to power and the one that brought obama to power in 2008, there's a kind of -- if the word we're using is dissatisfaction, there's a form of anger out there in america and it will manifest its way in each election in ways that are very difficult for experts in washington to predict. hillary clinton had that locked up in 2007. people thought obama was running for -- he would be vice president or he would one day run. and certainly, although some people were talking about huge republican gains, massive size that didn't become apparent until the last few weeks before the election, the candidate who can ride that anger from either party, i might add. obama rode that anger in 2008. it isn't just the left. it isn't just the tea parties. there are angry, frustrated people right in the center. and riding that frustration and anger and disappointment of the people in the center is what will get somebody elected.
>> we talk about role of government. we talked for many, many months here. it is this searing populism. you go back to 2008, that was, in part, what obama was about. yes, it was change, but it was about this anger at what washington had become and what republicanism had become at that moment that led to that. then we see that again in 2010. >> the most important political fact of our lifetime is do you trust government to do the right thing most of the time? through the '70s and '80 it was 80%. now it's like 70%. 19%. they feel the institutions are failing them. because we've been stuck in warfare. world war i. big government versus small government. the president and republicans have to decide whether they want to continue that debate or have a new debate and ask the new question, which is does government help us achieve and produce? then you get out of the big government, small government debate have a newer debate. >> if i could, there's a lot of data, there's a lot of evidence that less government leads to stronger economic growth. at a time when economic growth is such an important premium,
people's opinion have -- they acknowledge that at some level and there is a majority that wants less government for that reason. >> i think that's largely true but basic scientific research, education, early childhood education. we're going to have this debate right on the -- >> about getting the balance right? >> that's right. >> katty? >> what david has said, not trusting government. there is this sense that the pyramid is flattening, whether in the world of business or politics, and the top has less say and less influence over what the bottom wants. and i think that's a function of people having less trust in what happens in government. >> we have this huge debate about the role of government. yet, the debate is likely to get more robust about the role of government in afghanistan, because of the enormous amount of money that the government is now paying and that our troops are paying in their own lives. professor carter, you wrote this in "the daily beast" before christmas about afghanistan. if president obama still believes the afghan war to be
one of necessity, he needs to tell us exactly what it is that is necessary to do and how we will know when we have done it. it is a question i would like to ask, which is what do you win if you win? >> that's the question that i think the president has to answer. president obama has said several times, this is a war of necessity. it's a war that was forced on us, a war of self defense, a war that must be won. those are very powerful statements and one balances those statements, it seems to me, with an account of what counts as a victory. it's very difficult to talk about a war that must be won and that has a deadline at which you're going to stop pursuing it. i think one of the things that the president has correctly backed off somewhat of this notion of a deadline, even the most recent white house paper is precisely for that reason. i think that we need a more clearly articulated decision of what counts as victory. >> a military presence would be
required in afghanistan. that would be important and gender a big debate here. >> right. i don't think that is where the obama policy is. this war turns ten years old this year. we americans -- i think it's true for democracies, generally, are not great at winning long, long wars. people in democracies get impatient and say why must we keep having our soldiers die? what are we getting out of it? i think president obama has been trying to redefine this war as he goes along. he clearly does not want a long commitment that goes past 2014. having said that, there is some progress, at least in this war, i think in weakening the taliban and some of these other forces, but it's a mess. you've got not only afghanistan but also what's going on over the border in pakistan. i still think the biden policy of trying to focus this on terrorism is going to become more and more attractive as time goes on.
we're back with our last few minutes with our roundtable. white christmas is beautiful but sometimes a white christmas goes wrong politically. look at the scenes that played out over christmas. this is new york city, up and down the east coast, a monstrous storm that left so much snow. and questions about the government's response. mayor bloomberg had to answer questions on tuesday, had a particular tone, and changed by tuesday. and changed by wednesday. >> cannot be every place at all times, but if you look around, the people behind me are the best people in the country to lead the city and provide is services we need.
we did not do as good a job as we wanted to do or as the city has a right to expect. >> you saw "the daily news" with its cover, tabloids giving it a hard time. snow excuses for mayor bloomberg. katty kay, we know how tough this can be. chris christie in new jersey was in disney world with his family, who took criticism for that. weather can be awfully damaging to a politician. >> it can be extremely damaging and it's a test of competence and empathy and both are needed. probably one part empathy and three parts competence. if you can actually clear the streets, you will win over your public. if you don't clear the streets, the worst thing you can do is come out and sound unempathetic. michael bloomberg to cory booker, shoveling snow. >> with a shovel in hand. >> it's much easier to come out badly probably from a snow storm than it is to come out well. but cory booker showed us how a politician can turn things around. he made that mix of actually getting out there and shoveling and had the competence factor
and of having the empathetic factor. >> we can pay for equipment that we're going to use one day a decade, like the sixth biggest snow storm in new york city or suck it up a few days and stay inside. and watch television. so, i think new yorkers need to just suck it up. you don't want to pay for those snow shovels. >> coming out -- >> brooks to new york. what about this, though? let's take it back, e.j. 1969, another new york mayor running for re-election, having to account for another big storm. this is john lindsay in 1969. >> i guessed wrong on the weather before the city's biggest snowfall last winter and that was a mistake, but i put 6,000 more cops on the streets and that was no mistake. the things that go wrong are what make this the second toughest job in america. but the things that go right are what make me want it. >> how about that?
>> it is one of the greatest ads in american history, because it began -- david garth, the late david garth is the guy who made it. it was a politician being smart and humble enough to say, all right, there is no way i will ever spin my way out of this mistake. so, i'm going to admit it. and then try to focus people's attention elsewhere. but, you know, on snow, we had an abstract argument about government. i think government is much more important to the economic growth than senator toomey does, but we expect government to do certain basic things right. and i think that mayor bloomberg made a mistake by, on the first day, when he knew it was a mess out there and i was stuck in the snow. i was visiting my family in new york. and there was an access lane to the belt parkway that looked like a country lane in vermont, which is very pretty, but it was hard to drive on. you don't just sort of go out and tell people to suck it up. you say i'm trying to get the job done. best line, both about governor christie being in disney, the word for politicians is be there, do something.
i think that's right. >> according to mayor bloomberg, the best people in the country couldn't clear snow from the streets. do we really want to trust them to regulate the internet? >> how about governor rendell, he put the snow out there and you see, empties the bucket, this seat reserved for nonwussies. he says we're becoming a nation of wussies because of the snow. i'm from los angeles. i don't even understand the snowfall. we'll leave it there. thanks to all of you. we've had a great start to the new year here. speaking of great starts, how about those washington capitals, they start the year with a 3-1 win over the pittsburgh penguins. sorry, senator, in the winter classic outside last night. weather was a factor there. on the breakaway, all alone. two goals on the night and he scores, getting it done. we're taking on the pens, coming